The Current

Canadians the nicest people in the world, says BBC, but are we?

Canadians are aggressively nice, bursting with pride at our own humility and unapologetically always sorry for anything. American Eric Weiner shares his delight over how polite we are, even as comedian Aisha Alfa exposes the snarl in our smiles.
BBC's Eric's Weiner says that Canada could teach the rest of the world a lesson in being nice. But not everyone embraces the compliment. (Nate Grigg, Flickr cc)

Being nice, and polite, and anything but confrontational ...

It's one of the few things that seem to define our national character. And that's especially true if you travel abroad and encountered others' perceptions of what a Canadian should be: a fan of hockey; somehow comfortable with cold weather; and unfailingly courteous, and "nice." But some would say there's an undercurrent, something less than "nice" flowing under the surface... or beneath the "ice" of Canadian "nice."

(Tara Hunt, Flickr cc)

We're asking today because of a piece of journalism that went heavy on the "nice" in describing Canada, and Canadians, to the wider world. Published on the BBC's travel website, the item was headlined, "Can Canada teach the rest of us to be nicer?" And its author, Eric Weiner, has faced a nice amount of backlash since publishing the piece — especially from Canadians arguing we might not be as nice, as we may seem.

Eric Weiner is a journalist and author of the book "The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World." He was in our Washington studio. 

Aisha Alfa is a comedian and actor. She was in our Toronto studio.

Are we Canadians really that nice? Tell us what you think.

Tweet us @thecurrentcbc. Or post on Facebook. Email us through our website. And as always if you want to download our podcast, go to our Podcast page. 

This segment was produced by The Current's Josh Bloch and Pacinthe Mattar.